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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Workers crushed to death at shoe factory

Workers crushed to death at shoe factory

collapsed building pha lina
Authorities inspect the rubble at the Wing Star footwear factory at the point where an allegedly illegally constructed mezzanine collapsed, killing two. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

Two people were killed this morning, including a girl whose family members said was only 15 years old, when a mezzanine floor collapsed at a shoe factory in Kampong Speu province’s Kong Pisei district.

Hundreds of police and members of the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit rushed frantically to pull victims from the rubble after a floor collapsed at a building in the Wing Star Shoes Co., Ltd. factory just after employees arrived to work at about 7:30am.

Twenty-four-year-old Reung Chak, whom colleagues said had just become a father a month ago, was killed along with Sim Srey Touch, whose mother said she had lied about her age to get her job.

“Up until now, I found that two workers are dead and 11 got injured, but two workers who went to get medical treatment got better and went back home already,” Kampong Speu military police chief Men Siborn said.

Wing Star Shoes is a member of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia and supplies Japanese footwear manufacturer ASICS.

The company’s administrative director, Chea Sothavirith, confirmed two had died and 11 had been injured but refused to comment whether the company would offer compensation.

Earlier today, Minister for Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Ith Sam Heng, said at a press conference that the government would pay compensation to the victims. He also claimed three people had died, a figure the government later retracted, correcting the death toll to two.

“It is the first case [like this] that happened in our country because in previous times workers only fainted,” he said.

“Following this incident we will create an inspection committee to investigate all the factories in the country in the case that we suspect irregularities and the inspection committee will have [inspections every] month, three months and in special cases.”

Ken Loo, secretary general of the GMAC, said though the incident was concerning, it was highly unlikely that Wing Star Shoes was responsible, suggesting blame probably laid at the feet of building contractors.  

“We’re not talking about the same industry wide deficiencies, we are not talking about the same things that happened in Bangladesh, this was a one-off accident.”

This year, a series of horrific accidents at garment factories in Bangladesh have led to protests and outrage, including the collapse of a building last month that killed more than 1,000 workers.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAVID BOYLE

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